RELIGION

Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Eagles and Hawks

Application: Understanding Buddhism

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: With students in pairs, have one be an “eagle” and another be a “hawk” (or in Buddhism, Kuan Yin and Padmasambhava). Have the students discuss Thich Nhat Han’s 14 Precepts in Being Peace. After a specified amount of time, have the eagles “fly” to a different hawk partner to continue discussion on the topic. Then have the hawks fly and so on. [Editor’s note: Each student could be assigned to become an expert on one of the 14 Precepts and, in Eagles and Hawks, share his/her expertise with each new partner. If two partners had the same expertise, they could see what more they could learn from their partner.]

2. Strategy: Menu of Assignments (Self-Motivation-Autonomy)

Application: Religion 101 or Any Course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: When students are asked to write a paper/essay, provide them with three to five options for topics. The autonomy of choice often creates stronger papers since the students are more invested in the topic. Or have the students write on a particular topic but enable them to choose the format and style. They could write on the topic in the form of an interview, poem, eulogy, news article, children’s book, flyer, etc.

3. Strategy: Hand-up/Stand-up & Flashcard Quiz Game

Application: Religion 101 or Any Course with tests

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Each student creates 10 questions on an index cards as a review for an upcoming quiz/test. Using Hand-up/Stand-up, students pair up. They then present their partner with the question on one of their cards. If the other student answers correctly, the answering student gets the card. If the student answers incorrectly, he/she must move on to another card without any “points.” Continue doing Hand-up/Stand-up until the allotted time runs out. The student with the most cards wins! Example of card question: Who is the one god of Zoroastrianism?

4. Strategy: Portfolio Celebration (variation of Gallery Walk with Feedback)

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Students work on portfolio entries throughout the semester such as creating a personal symbol for something they value about themselves after learning about religious symbols, creating a Taoist poem after learning about Taoist beliefs and poetry, creating a mandala after a Buddhism unit, etc. At the end of the semester students tag three entries that they would like to share with the rest of the class. Students are given post-it notes, music plays in the background, and the students spend the whole class period reading other students entries and writing feedback on post-it notes which they place on that student’s portfolio. At the end of the class period, students return to their own portfolios and read the feedback before submitting it to the instructor.

5. Strategy: Guided Conversation

Application: World Religions or Understanding Islam

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: This is a way to face and overcome stereotypes. Create sentence stems such as: “The word jihad means…,” “Muslim women wear the hijab
because…,” “When I see a turban I think…,” etc. Sitting in pairs, students complete these sentence stems in a conversation with their partners. Do this at the beginning of the semester to get these assumptions out in the open, share responses, and then the instructor describes the real meaning behind all of these sometimes controversial or confusing terms/symbols.

6. Strategy: Pre-Instruction Quiz

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: This activity is intended to be used within the first week of a course. Create a list of 10 questions about religion such as: “Where is the Vatican?”, “What movie came out recently with a Noah’s ark theme?”, “Who is the Hindu elephant-headed god?” etc. Have students introduce themselves to another student and then work in pairs to answer these questions. If the partners don’t know the answer to one of the questions, have them introduce themselves to another pair of students and ask for help on the question. They keep moving to new pairs (introducing themselves each time) to see if they can answer all 10 questions.

7. Strategy: Journal Writing

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Students reflect on topics discussed in class. Instructor provides prompts such as religious quotes, images, and questions. Examples: “In Shinto, toriis mark sacred places. If you were to designate a place as especially sacred to you, what place would you choose and why?” “Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are coming of age ceremonies for Jewish children. Do you think rites of passage are times of significant change, constructs of the human mind, or both? Explain.” “When looking at this image of an eagle, what thoughts come to mind?” “Who do you side with, Mencius or Hsun-tzu?” “Do you think human nature is inherently good or bad? Explain.”

8. Strategy: Movers and Shakers

Application: Test review for Religion 101 or Any Course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: For a classroom of 24 students, create 12 index cards with one review question on each card and the answer on the back. Have the students stand in two rows facing one another. Give each student in one of the rows a card with a review question. These are the Shakers. Shakers ask the student directly across from them their question. The students answering the questions are the Movers. After 90 seconds of discussing the question, Shakers stand in place and shake all over while all Movers step to the right where they are asked another question by a Shaker (the Mover at the end of the line walks to the other end of the line to get a partner). Have the Movers move down the whole line of Shakers. When all the Movers have answered each question, have the students switch roles and repeat the activity. Option: Give the Shakers star stickers and the Movers blank 3×5 index cards. If the Mover answers correctly, the Shaker gives him/her a star sticker. The student with the most stars get +5 points on his/her quiz/test.

9. Strategy: Pair/Square/Share

Application: Ethics or Special Topics/Themes in Religion

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Each student partners with another student. Have the students discuss religious attitudes toward the environment with their partners (Part of the environment? Granted dominion over the environment? Steward of the environment?). Then each pair joins another pair of students and each partner explains to the other pair what his/her partner answered and they discuss. Finally, students are invited to share their answers with the entire group.

10. Strategy: Popcorn Reading

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: In a religion course it is important for the religious tradition to speak for itself in the form of its sacred literature. Whenever such literature is being used, either from a course book or in a slide, have students “pop up” to volunteer to read a section (perhaps a paragraph). As one student finishes, another “pops up” and continues the reading.

11. Strategy: Poster Session using Corners

Application: Indian Religions

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Have students work in groups (ideal size: 6 students in 4 groups) to create a poster on the life and teachings of Sri Aurobindo, J. Krishnamurti, Paramahansa Yogananda, and Sai Baba. Once the posters are complete, post them in the four corners of a classroom. Have 3 of the 5-group members stay at their poster while the other 3 group members travel to the other corners. The 3 who remain at their poster are the “gurus” or teachers who will explain their poster to the travelers from the other groups, known as “chelas” or disciples. Have the chelas travel to all three corners and take notes. When they return to their own corner, have the gurus and chelas switch roles and repeat process. End with a full-class discussion of the key concepts of each teacher.

12. Strategy: Table Talk Around

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Have students sit in small groups and respond one at a time, going around the group, to a prompt or sentence stem such as “One new thing I learned about Christianity is…”

13. Strategy: Silent Socratic Dialogue

Application: Ethics or special topics in religion

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Write down questions of a philosophical tone on the board such as: “What is our purpose in life?”, “Is there a god?”, “Do people die when it is their time to die?”, etc. Have students pair up. They first write the question they chose at the top of their paper; then, in silence, they write a response until you provide a signal (e.g., chime) that it is time to exchange papers. Partners read each other’s written response, then write a question. Upon exchanging again, students write an answer to the question their partner asked. Students then exchange again 2-4 more times.

14. Strategy: Toss a Test

Application: Review for a quiz or test

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Buy 20 or so small, soft balls at a craft shop. Have students stand in a circle. Ask a question and then throw a ball to a student. The student with the ball must answer the question correctly in order to keep the ball. If he/she answers incorrectly then he/she must throw the ball to another student to answer the question. When the question is answered correctly, ask another question and throw another ball. Student with the most balls at the end wins. Prizes might include bonus points on the quiz or test.

15. Strategy: Field Trip and Work Sheet

Application: Any religion course

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Have students take a field trip to a museum, church, temple, or religious festival with a worksheet of questions to answer. Stress the value of on-site field experience! It is a different form of education to see a sculpture of Vishnu, experience church music and sermons, and to feel the piety of devotees during festivals.

16. Strategy: Card Swap (variation)

Application: World Religions or Special Topics/Themes in Religious Studies

Educator: Sarah Hadmack, Faculty, Religion, University of Hawaii and Windward Community College, HI

Implementation: Give students index cards and ask them to record their ideas for conflict resolution in the Holy Land. Students then swap cards and respond/improve/add to the previous student’s thoughts on this topic. Students receive their cards back, and, as a group, students offer what they thought were the best ideas to the whole class. Instructor can record ideas on the board. This activity can be used for brainstorming and critical thinking as shown above or for review such as having students write down an assigned religion at the top of their card, such as Buddhism, and then having to write down that faith’s most important teachings, beliefs on the afterlife, etc.

17. Strategy: Self-Management using the Calendar

Application: Philosophy or Any Course with new terms/vocabulary

Educator: Ida Batltikauskas, Professor of Philosophy, Century College, MN

Implementation: The goal is to help students manage the huge amount of information – especially vocabulary and terms that students need to know in my world religions class. Students write on the calendar the new vocabulary words they want to learn by a specific date (i.e. I will learn “moksha,” “samsara,” and “karma” by October 4th) so that all the words will be learned by the end of the semester. They write review dates with specific information about what they will review each day leading up to the exam. In this way, students will not be ‘cramming’ before the exam and they will be able to learn all the new words/terms they need to know for the test.

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